Religious Retirement Office
Vol. 13, No. 1
Sisters in Song: Praising and Fund-Raising
Many NRRO newsletter readers may be familiar with Sisters in Song, a unique choir of women religious from nearly sixty congregations across the country. This dedicated and talented group is about more than beautiful music, however. Over the last seven years, the Sisters in Song project has raised in excess of $500,000 for retired religious in the United States. Proceeds are divided equally between NRRO and Support Our Aging Religious (SOAR!).
Founded in 1994, the group is the brainchild of Patrick Powers, president of a private family foundation. A former board member of SOAR!, Mr. Powers was intimately related with the challenges involved in raising funds for retired religious. After working with various local fund-raising projects, he wanted to launch a more comprehensive endeavor. Inspired by the popular success of the movie Sister Act, Mr. Powers envisioned a national choir consisting solely of sisters from religious institutes across the United States. The choir would sell recordings to help support the needs of retired religious. Mr. Powers shared his idea with choral director Frank Brownstead and with Sister Sarah Michael King, CSJ, who became project director for the first two albums. Together they launched Sisters in Song.
Over 300 sisters auditioned for the choir in 1994. The depth of talent made it difficult to narrow the group to sixty. The sisters featured on the first two recordings represent over thirty religious institutes and twenty states. More than 70,000 copies of their albums, Celebrate! and Christmas Spirit!, have been sold since 1994; and the numbers increase daily. In fact, the success of these two recordings prompted the recent release of a third recording, Rejoice!, directed by interna-tionally renowned composer, Christopher Walker. After another competitive round of auditions for the third album, the choir was increased to eighty voices. The choir for this recording includes sisters from 28 states and 58 communities. The nuns range in age from 35 to 78.
The project is a collaborative effort not just in terms of the sisters' participation, but also because of the many companies, organizations and religious communities that lend their support. In addition to receiving private grant funding, Sisters in Song has been aided by organizations including the Marriott Company, Mount St. Mary's College, the Serra Club and the Sisters of St. Joseph Health System in southern California. Through cash donations and in-kind gifts (such as meals and transportation), Sisters in Song have been able to adhere to a strict budget, thus maximizing proceeds. Additionally, Oregon Catholic Press and World Library Publications have made significant contributions to the production of the recordings, and both companies donate their share of the profits to the retirement funds for religious. Finally, numerous composers have allowed their compositions to be used without receiving royalties.
Project coordinators are encouraged by the great success the newest album has enjoyed. Oregon Catholic Press reports that November and December 2000 sales for this recording exceeded those of any other album release the company has ever distributed. The response has been so over-whelming, in fact, that plans are already being made for a fourth recording which is scheduled to be released in 2002.
The success of all three recordings is definitely well-deserved. As Sister Theresa LaMetterey, CSJ, project director for the latest recording notes, "The music is beautiful and the cause is compelling." With Easter approaching, and interest in the project greater than ever, Sisters in Song definitely have reason to Rejoice!
To learn more about Sisters in Song, visit their website at www.sistersinsong.org. Cassettes and CD's can be ordered online at www.ocp.org or by calling 1-800-548-8749.
Message from the Director
As the generous donations from the Retirement Fund for Religious Appeal XIII continue to arrive, we are once again humbled by the love and respect so many have for the lives and service of our senior religious. I thought long and hard about how best to express what is deepest in the hearts of our senior religious and thus to help you understand the depths of their gratitude.
Each young man or woman who enters religious life does so in response to a call from God to love and serve. The desire to serve grows ever stronger throughout the life of a religious. While senior religious are grateful for the care they receive from their religious institutes, they also are interested in and concerned for the ongoing mission and viability of their communities. They have invested their lives in serving others and now do not want their needs for care to prevent that service from continuing.
The generosity of donors to the Retirement Fund for Religious supports religious institutes in funding the necessary and well-deserved care of our senior religious. The RFR also enables NRRO to encourage and assist religious institutes in their financial planning efforts. This planning helps ensure that institutional assets are well-utilized both to meet members' needs and to advance the congregational mission. For retired religious, the support made possible by the generosity of donors to the RFR is a great consolation. It gives them peace of mind and heart as they see their religious institutes able to continue to carry the mission of Jesus' love and good news entrusted to them. Truly, it is the ripple effect of a good deed and we are all so grateful!
May God bless you and yours abundantly!
Sister Andrιe Fries, CPPS
Project Director for Retirement Services
Circle of Life
Brother John T. Patzwall, FSC
On my personal to do list, perhaps it might more accurately be called a dream or wish list, is a trip to New York City to see the stage production of the highly acclaimed The Lion King. I hope to see it at least before I wear out the cassette of the show's music that relieves this savage beast as I motor around the Free State and the District of Columbia. The music is an antidote to road rage engendered by those foreigners from the Commonwealth of Virginia and various other environs.
One of many favorite tunes from that show is called, I believe, The Circle of Life. In a way it reminds me of the activities of the National Religious Retirement Office and our never ending grant cycles. When one cycle is ending, another is in planning or being launched; and the circle of applications and awards continues unabated. This is especially true as the calendar turns the page from one year to the next. December begins with the awarding of the Supplemental Grants and ends with the mailing of the Eligibility Forms for the next cycle of Basic Grants. As we have recently passed that point, I thought it would be a good idea to give a preliminary final report on the year 2000. The Annual Report will be the final report.
Grants distributed by the National Religious Retirement Office in 2000 amounted to $29,684,230! The following awards were made possible by the generosity of those contributing to the December 1999 campaign and collection and to the surplus accumulated from prior campaigns: Basic Grants: $25,033,930; Special Assistance Grants: $458,800; and SING Grants: $279,500.
In addition, during December 2000, twenty-eight religious institutes and/or collaborative projects received checks for Supplemental Grants amounting to $3,912,000. Both the number of grants and the total amount awarded set new annual records.
We are very grateful to the generous volunteer consultants, mostly drawn from the busy ranks of experienced treasurers of religious institutes, who completed on-site visits to the grant applicants.
They not only provided valuable advice and assistance to the institutes visited, but facilitated the work of our office and the Grant Review Board.
For the entire period during which the National Religious Retirement Office has awarded grants (1989-2000), over $313.3 million has been distributed to religious institutes of men and women to assist them with current and future retirement needs. That amount represents more than ninety-eight percent of the $318,583,815 generously contributed to the Retirement Fund for Religious since its inception! Few charities can report anywhere near that level of donated funds actually reaching the intended recipients.
Now that all has been distributed and accounted for, we have begun the 2001 Grant Cycle by distributing 893 eligibility forms for the 2001 Basic Grant and have made available applications for the other grant programs. Neither preliminary nor final numbers are yet available on the 2000 collection, so it is prema-ture to calculate the total available funds for grant distribution at this time. If the number of contribu-tions received directly here in the office is any indication, however, it will be another good year.
|Our Apologies to those religious institutes which did not receive their 2001 Basic Grant Eligibility Forms in a timely manner. While all were delivered to the USCC mailroom on December 26, 2000, many were late in arriving at their destinations. If your institute does not yet have the appropriate forms, please call us immediately.|
|Looking for help with retirement planning issues? Contact Sister Janice Bader, Project Director for Retirement Services.|
If you would like to make a bequest or restricted gift to the National Religious Retirement Office, the following information should be used:
To the United States Catholic Conference Incorporated, for the exclusive purpose of assisting Roman Catholic religious orders in the United States to provide for the retirement needs of their elderly members.
Please send changes in congregational leadership, as well as addresses, phone or e-mail, to NRRO c/o Jean Smith so that we can keep our records and mailing lists up to date. Thank You!
|Legal Seminar, Kansas City, MO
Basic Grant Eligibility & Special Assistance forms due at NRRO
SING Grant Applications due at NRRO
Retirement Needs Analysis Distributed
Grand Review Board Conference Call Meeting
USCCB Spring General Meeting, Atlanta, GA
Basic & Special Assistance Grants Awarded
CMSM-LCWR Assembly, Baltimore, MD
CMSWR Conference, Mundelein, IL
NATRI Conference, Milwaukee, WI
RFR National Collection
|March 22-25, 2001
March 30, 2001
April 15, 2000
May 4, 2001
May 16, 2001
June 14-16, 2001
June 15, 2001
August 23-27, 2001
October 11-14, 2001
October 31-November 3, 2001
December 8-9, 2001